30 December X
David Tennant in Broadchurch
The waiting’s finally over for Broadchurch fans as the hit show returns for a second run. Viewers will recall that the killer of 11-year-old Danny Latimer was revealed in the season finale as DS Ellie Miller’s husband Joe, so what now for the characters? TV Choice caught up with David Tennant, who plays DI Alec Hardy, and was deemed unfit for work due to health problems at the end of series one, but he was sworn to secrecy...
How tough has it been filming and promoting series two of Broadchurch without letting anything slip?
We had the advantage in series one where nobody really cared because no one knew what was coming. This time there’s expectation which is difficult to manage. But if that means we’re a victim of success then that’s a good thing.
What can you tell us?
It’s a very different type of story, it would have felt wrong for series two to be another body on another beach. Writer Chris Chibnall has created a story which is structurally very different but is still absolutely in that world both tonally and emotionally.
Has it been difficult keeping storylines under wraps during filming?
Early on we were stalked quite heavily by photographers and there was some graveyard stuff that made it into some of the papers which led to speculation, some of which was accurate, some wildly inaccurate. But it feeds the beast, gets people interested so I guess a bit of speculation won’t do any harm.
How did you feel to read episode one?
It was exciting to be back in that world and we pick up where series one left off in many ways. I was absolutely hooked again, Chris has structured that first 15 minutes beautifully.
How difficult was it keeping the identity of the killer secret in season one?
I didn’t know until episode eight arrived in a brown envelope, which was about two thirds through filming. It was quite good because in each interrogation scene I genuinely didn’t know who was lying and who wasn’t. I remember a point half way through filming when Chris [Chibnall] came on set and showed us a sequence of early footage. We were all crushed into the upper floor of the dining bus before filming and he was shaking with nerves. He said, ‘I know some of you want to know and some don’t and I’ve decided I’m not going to tell you!’ So the suspense was eeked out even longer. A similar thing happened with script distribution this time.
Is it nice that people now recognise you for Broadchurch rather than simply Doctor Who?
Well it’s certainly different, yes. Not that I’m ever sad to talk about Doctor Who or to be recognised for that. I will always be terribly proud of it but, yes, it was lovely to be part of something else that seemed to attract an equal level of enthusiasm.
How did the new cast — Charlotte Rampling, Marie-Anne Jean Baptiste, Eve Myles, James D’Arcy and Phoebe Waller-Bridge — integrate?
Extremely well mercifully. If it were all to end today, there are a lot of people I’ll miss. It’s one of those jobs you come away from with a much heavier phone book. Everyone’s bonded by being a Broadchurcher.
You’ve also appeared in the American remake Gracepoint, how was that experience?
It’s very unusual to be asked so that’s one of the main reasons to do it. It’s was too extraordinary an opportunity to turn down and it was the same but different. As I finished filming Gracepoint in Canada, the first script for Broadchurch season two arrived and I thought it would be interesting to read it. So I did and I thought it was fantastically clever and brilliant and thrilling but completely disorientating. It suddenly felt like an entirely different world so I put it down until I caught the plane home.
Did you feel protective of the character?
You do think, ‘I don’t want anyone else to have a go’. I thought if they’re going to let me have a try, I’m going to take that opportunity. Then you get there and it’s its own thing with its own life and momentum.
Did you watch the season one finale as it went out?
I couldn’t because I was on a night shoot in Cardiff for the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who at the time but I was following its progress through text messages I was receiving between takes. It was exciting and really felt like an event.
Are you keen to do more US TV?
I’m sort of keen to explore all the worlds and see what comes up next. It does feel like television internationally is becoming one big industry — people just go where the good scripts are, film, TV, stage, radio. There’s a wonderful freedom to being able to work in all these different worlds.
Can you tell us what you’ll be working on next?
I think I’m going on to a film but films being films, you don’t quite want to bank on it until you’re there on the first day. I’m having a bit of time off, which I haven’t done in a long time, so I’m very excited.
Any shows you’d like to be in?
The West Wing is the show I always wish I’d ended up in. I just wanted to be Bradley Whitford [Josh Lyman]. For me it’s still the finest television there’s ever been. Maybe The Newsroom or whatever Aaron Sorkin does next.
Have you seen Peter Capaldi in Doctor Who?
Of course, he’s fantastic, how could I not? I think it’s illegal not to watch Doctor Who in this country!
And a Scottish Doctor….
Yes, it clearly works. It’s great to see Peter bringing so much of himself to it and running with it, making it so fantastic.